Divorce is expensive.
Whether money issues contributed to finally calling it quits or not, divorce can be a leading cause of financial problems. If you are considering divorce, you must protect your finances as much as possible. However, it is possible to exit a marriage without filing for bankruptcy in NJ. Here are some things to remember as you begin navigating your separation and eventual divorce.
1. Identify Your Assets and Debts
Your first step needs to be getting a solid understanding of how much money you have and where that money is. Do you have money in bank accounts, home equity, or an investment account? Do you have sole ownership over these assets, or are they shared with your spouse? Knowing which assets are yours and how much money you have is essential. Similarly, you need to get a good accounting of your debt or any shared debt, including mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, etc.
2. Get Your Statements In Order
You should get current financial statements and documentation showing the value of your assets so you have a clear picture of your finances. This includes bank statements, tax documents, investment plan documents, or any financial documents from the last few years. The courts are less interested in the nitty-gritty of your relationship with your former spouse and more interested in helping you divide your assets. Make sure you have hard copies of everything instead of relying on e-statements online in case your spouse removes your access to these accounts.
3. Open Accounts in Your Name Only
If you know you are heading for divorce, it is a good idea to open a bank account that is in your name only. Then, begin depositing money into this account. If you have shared access to a bank account, you don’t want to lose access to the funds in that account that belongs to you. While it is ill-advised to wipe out a shared bank account, you can transfer enough money out of the account to help you cover bills until you have secured legal counsel. Especially if you are a nonworking spouse, you will need to start opening some accounts to generate your own credit history. This will help you get loans for a car or house in the future.
4. Try to Find Even Ground on Rent or Mortgage Payments
Your mortgage lender or landlord will still expect to be paid during your divorce. Whether you want to keep the house or move out, if your name is still tied to the lease or the mortgage, you are responsible for the payments. No matter what you agree to do with the house in the divorce, you need to be able to come up with a compromise on making housing payments in the meantime—or you could risk foreclosure.
5. Seek Professional Help
Working with an expert will give you the best chance of success. An experienced divorce attorney will be able to guide you throughout the divorce process and ensure you are not getting the short stick financially. If you think you may face financial difficulties, speaking to a debt attorney or a bankruptcy attorney could also be beneficial.
Veitengruber Law has experience working with people struggling with the financial realities of divorce. We can work with you alongside your divorce attorney to ensure you can maintain as much of your assets as possible.